Props for Book Signings:
You need "eye candy" at your table if your signings at bookstores and literature festivals are to have a chance for success -- something that will draw the attention of passers-by within the three seconds or so before they look at something else. Here are some suggestions:
A poster of your book cover or of some significant item within the book. I have one of each type, but available table space rarely allows the use of both. If you have a stand-alone easel, one can go behind you. Caution: Don't block your face from the "main traveled walkway." [Kinko's makes great posters for a reasonable price -- stiff foam background and laminated. Be sure to ask for their attachable cardboard stands for the backs.]
Use a home publishing program on your computer to make small signs to attach to the front of the table. These can announce special offers and freebies. [Example: I give away a pioneer recipe to all comers. For a "Teacher Appreciation Week" at a bookstore, I also had a drawing for a free classroom visit for teachers who bought books. Another author, who wrote a book about restaurant safety, gave away small vials of waterless hand washing goop.]
Hint: Always take along some clean 8-1/2" x 11" pages, a black felt tipped pen, and some masking tape to cover unexpected emergencies or on-site ideas.
MORE PROMOTION IDEAS: My prediction has proved true. When I speak, I sell books. It is much more useful than going to book festivals. When I went to Cheyenne, WY schools, they ordered 500 books! I've spoken to writing workshops, retirement homes, libraries, service organizations and historical societies. I encourage the contact person for the engagement to notify the local media. Then I call a nearby bookstore to see if I can schedule a signing there as well. Many bookstores need a lead time of four or five months so I can't always work that out, but it's worth a try. Not all my efforts pan out, but I always do my best. Example: By wearing a promotional tee shirt to my hospital rehab sessions, I sold 7 books without even trying. Be brave!